When 12-year-old Caitlin met soccer pro Toni Pressley, she saw so much. She saw poise, skill, determination and maybe even her future self.
“It was amazing, the fact that a professional soccer player took the time out of her day, just to come and play soccer with some kids,” said Caitlin, who got the chance to meet Pressley and play a game of scrimmage, as part of Health First’s partnership with the Boys & Girls Club.
Interacting with Pressley at the Temple Terrace branch ignited even more of a flame for Caitlin.
“Whether or not you lose or win, I’ve learned playing soccer is about the fun of the game,” she said. If Caitlin can follow Pressley into professional sports, all the better.
“However far I can make it is my goal,” she said.
Pressley, who grew up in Eau Gallie, loves giving back to her hometown community. For her, some of these kids even remind her of herself. “I didn’t have someone to come in and just interact with me at a young age, certainly not a professional soccer player,” she explained. “So, I think just having them see someone who looks like them, is from the same area as them – see that they can make it in whatever they’re dreaming of, I think it’s very important to see.”
Caitlin admits she was trying to mimic Pressley’s moves and maybe even impress her a little. She described Toni as strong, beautiful and competitive – the type of person she’d like to be when she grows up. Having soccer as an outlet, as well as a role model like Pressley, has been invaluable.
“No matter who you are, what happens to you, you can overcome that,” an inspired Caitlin said. “There’s always a second chance.”